Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review

Why try to reinvent the wheel. This guys says it very well.

I might summarize by saying that clarity is king.

The evidence shows clearly that writing out your goals on a daily basis will really help you with that. Other than that, if you want to read on you will find it time well spent.

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review.

Revisit your vision


Sometimes you can “get religion” when something really works for you and I confess that I may be guilty of this this morning but (to slaughter a great Woody Allen line) just because I’m excited to share doesn’t mean it’s not really important.

Yesterday afternoon I went back to rewrite my vision, mission and values statements.  Whereas before the vision was foggy it was now crystal clear.  Where before my mission was wishy washy, it is now strong and where before my values were plentiful and polyanna they are now focussed and meaningful.  It has made a huge difference to the decsions that I have made since and I wish the same for you.

It was about 6 months since I had attempted this exercise and I’ve grown a lot and learned great deal in that time I am sure that the same can be said of you.

You may like to take a couple of hours of total quiet and do this exercise:  Sit down somewhere comfy with a pad and pen to hand.  Sit still.  Think of nothing for an hour (as best you can).  Use the notepad to jot down the to-do’s that inevitably come up in the first few minutes but after five, maybe ten minutes put that to one side and don’t use it again.  You have captured the urgent things,you’ll get to them later.

Now, don’t listen to a word you think for the first 30 minutes or so.  Then after a while you’ll find yourself coming up with great ideas and exciting opportunities.  Don’t write these down either they are just the teasers.

At the end of the first hour get up and write the Heading “MY VISION” then write what comes to mind.  Don’t filter or second guess and for goodness sake don’t judge it as possible from where you are today.  When you are done with that heading then write the heading “MY MISSION” and do the same and then “MY VALUES” and do the same.  Remember, don’t filter just brain dump.  You may refine then later.

When you have done that, sit back and read what you just wrote.  How much more powerful a vision is that for you and your life than you had before?  My bet is that you’ll be blown away.

Let me know how you get on.  I hope it is as powerful for you as it was for me.  Good luck.

If you would like more details on how to complete this exercise then feel free to comment here or email me at

I think I may have told you so

With reference to my recent post about how the Canucks would not throw the baby out with the bathwater and would retain their head coach I am happy to show that I was right.

Be careful what you change when things don’t go your way. You may be “three feet from gold” as the parable goes.

“Alain has established himself as one of the premiere coaches in the National Hockey League,” Gillis said. “He has demonstrated a commitment to winning that has led to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and we are confident his dedication and hard work will continue to yield positive results. Alain has built a foundation of winning with this franchise and I feel he can continue to build on that foundation to achieve our ultimate goal.”

via Vancouver Canucks show 'faith and confidence' in coach Alain Vigneault with two-year contract extension.

Exhausted at 9am?

Exhausted at 9am?

How tired are you? Could it be that you aren’t getting enough good quality sleep? Probably. It is estimated that over half of us are less productive at work than we could be due to poor sleep.

How do you fix the problem? Have my good friend David Evans educate you on what you can do today to sleep better tonight and be brighter, happier and more productive tomorrow.

Sleep well but click on the photo first.

If loyalty cards work, why do I have so many?

My point today is just that really?  Do these things work for the businesses that offer them?  If so then how is it that  I have a Blenz, Starbucks and Waves Coffee card in my wallet?  Are they really getting my business or paying me a discount for custom that they would have received anyway by virtue of their location?  They will never know and I guess I won’t either.

Do you have any of these schemes in your business that exist “just because everyone else has one”?  What can you do to make it measurable? There isn’t always a smart answer to that question the only smart thing is to ask it…..and ask it often with an open mind.

7 Lessons that any business can learn from the Vancouver Canucks – Part 7 & Summary

It’s been a week now since we started to poke at the Canucks and take a look at seven actions that they have taken that have directly resulted in a league leading performance on the ice.  These are not the only seven things that they do well but they are areas that any business would do well to emulate.  

We have covered:

1. Clarity of vision for the outcome (Win the Stanley Cup), 

2. Willingness to engage stakeholders outside of the business in this aim, 

3. Finding little edges that they can give their team (e.g. Sleep doctor),  

4. Getting players to commit more than energy to the cause, 

5. Willingness to delegate effectively to a trusted team outside of Exec management,

6. Succession planning that allows smoother transitions as the team changes.


And now we’ll look at something that was key last year when they lost in Game 7 of the Cup Final and this year when they were all but swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Number 7.  Let cooler heads prevail.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater when things don’t go your way. In life, sports and business all you can do is put the odds on your side and do everything that you can to win. Sometimes though life gets in the way and you won’t win.

Does that mean that the plan, the team, the management are all wrong?  Far from it.  It means that they just got stronger and wiser and can come back again next year (or tomorrow in business terms) more determined to win.  Of course there will need to be some adjustments made to accommodate a shift in parameters (playoff officiating for one) and that may mean that some people’s roles on the team change or are eliminated but what you haven’t seen and won’t see until their box of tricks is empty is a sacking of the GM or Coach.  The plan was good, the execution could have been better.  As the owner of the Canucks are you really going to be able to find a GM or coach markedly better able to chart the course to the Cup?  No way.  So they stick with the team that they have and have faith.

The same goes for your business.  Remember that point one stated that you set your own goals, well whether you achieved them in your first season or not, it’s up to you to keep in keeping on and improving daily to get there.  As all the good books will tell you it’s not about the destination.   Enjoying the journey and growing along the way is the bigger goal.  Hitting milestones is vital but success comes disguised in many forms.

So if you did achieve your goals in your “first season” then I have two points to make; Firstly, congratulations that was awesome and you must be very happy, go celebrate; Secondly, set bigger goals next time!

Thanks for reading this mini-series.  I truly hope that you have found my points useful in growing your business.  I have deliberately kept each blog as short as possible so please contact me at 604 339 5369 if you would like any more information on any of these points.

ASTD 2012 Conference: $328 Billion Lost Due to “Actively Disengaged” Employees

Wow the numbers are staggering but, when you think about it, not surprising. I have been one of the disaffected employees and try as I might I simply could not perform to my best. This is a must read for all business owners.

Contact me at 604 339 5369 to discuss if you like.

ASTD 2012 Conference: $328 Billion Lost Due to “Actively Disengaged” Employees.

7 Lessons that any business can learn from the Vancouver Canucks – Part 6

If you have been diligently following the last 5 days’ of articles you’ll have a really well functioning team (wow you moved fast to implement it that quickly).  Congratulations.

Now real life strikes.  Someone goes off sick at a critical time, someone is headhunted away, someone else falls pregnant.  That throws your perfectly balanced team into disarray.  Or does it?

For most companies (and hockey teams) the answer is yes. To use hockey talk you are well and truly pucked!  The chemistry is lost and, more importantly, roles shift dramatically to fill in the gap.  No-one is happy anymore. Ever!

But not so for every business or team.  What was noticeable about the Canucks over the last 2-3 years was how relatively seamlessly they have been able to promote players from their farm team.  That team, despite play half a continent away are structured and coached to play the same way as the Big Boys.  Therefore when the Canucks need a specific role filling they can pick a player that knows the system and for whom the leap to the NHL is as small a step as it was possible to make it.  It’s not a perfect science but they have done, and continue to do, what can be done to make that leap small.  

They also welcome the new guys with open arms and work to make them feel welcome.  Having an outsider on the inside helps no-one so old hazing and rookie treatment practices are gone.

So as a business owner what is your farm-team policy?  Who are you grooming for a step up well before that is required?  How well are you systematizing the work so that it is easy for someone to backfill or step in?  

Succession plans not only provide security for business operations, they provide hope and prospects to your staff, they provide clarity and accountability and they provide learning opportunities for everyone.  

Once again I highly recommend that all business owners invest in the services of a quality HR professional to help them create and maintain a meaningful succession plan for every role in the business.  Start with the key roles and work from there.

Good luck getting that plan in place.  As ever if you would like to discuss how to implement any of these lessons in your business contact me on 604 339 5369 or leave a comment in this blog.

Tomorrow is the last in the series and we’ll cover “keeping a calm head.”

7 Lessons that any business can learn from the Vancouver Canucks – Part 5

Now that we have covered getting our team on board through a clear vision, stakeholder engagement, providing tools that give them the edge over the competition and finding ways to get them to commit fully to the end-game we can talk about maximizing your time and resources as the business leader.  Also known as delegation.

Rather than focus on how to delegate I find it more useful to ask the question, why wouldn’t you delegate?  

Very often the reply is that, at a fundamental level, the owner doesn’t trust their people.  So the solution is simple.  Either hire people that you trust or invest in training so that you learn to trust them.  If you still don’t trust that they can or will do the job then go back a step and make sure that they are as committed to the output as you are.  With respect to the Canucks, Mike Gillis does a great job of hiring and retaining people whom he trusts implicitly to coach, advice on salary cap issues, make decisions on travel, nutrition etc.  He is a master delegator to maximize his time and effectiveness on behalf of the team.

I don’t think that I need to write a lengthy blog about this issue.  Do you trust your team or don’t you?  If you do then delegate (remember that you can only delegate the authority not the responsibility, that remains with you) and if you don’t then do something about it.   Your team will appreciate it – if they are the right team.

If you doubt me on this one, can you name me a single well-known, respected and successful micro-manager that is still doing what he or she was doing three years ago?  If you can I’ll donate $100 to a charity of your choice in your name.

And even if I have overlooked the exception to this rule then the point remains that most leaders get more from their teams by hiring and then USING their team to best effect than they do by hogging tasks.  You might even take a leaf out of Bill Gates’ book and leave yourself in the technical area and hire people to run the business around you.  You don’t have to give up doing what you love to do or take on tasks for which you are badly suited but you do have to have a team that covers all angles.  What you delegate depends on you and your business but you can’t do everything.

An action for you to take today is to identify all the tasks that you do today that you were doing this time last year.  Are they the right tasks for someone in your position and why haven’t you delegated that task to someone else?  How is this hurting your business?  Very often you’ll find that it is habit and habits are there to be broken when they no longer serve their purpose.  Train, trust and track your team to leave you freer to grow your business and grow as a person.

Good luck.

Tomorrow we cover the penultimate lesson and that is in a similar vein, succession planning.

7 Lessons that any business can learn from the Vancouver Canucks – Part 4

If you have followed the previous blogs in this series you will have learned the importance of a clearly defined goal, of involving stakeholders inside and outside of your business in realizing that goal and of going above and beyond the competition in providing small edges to your team to help them succeed.  Now we move to gaining real commitment from your team in the achievement of your business’ goals.

Question: In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the Chicken and the Pig?

Answer: The Chicken is involved, but the Pig is committed!

The Canucks have painted a sufficiently vivid vision of long-term, systematic success that key players have committed to and are now playing here, on long contracts, for less than their free-market value.  They know that by doing so they can gain more than just money.  They can gain the achievement of their full playing potential and in so doing will secure their long-term security in ways that their next contract elsewhere could not possibly achieve.  Hockey players play for money but at the top level it is also about winning and that is their goal. They’ll give up money if they know that by doing so they give themselves the best chance of winning.  In the salary cap era that is a reality for top players, they need to leave something on the table to attract top talent to play with.  Not every team has done that very well and there are some that are labouring under crushing contracts to individuals that restrict the GM’s abilities to go and get key players to help that team win.

In your business who is committed to your success and who is merely involved?  I well remember ‘leaders’ in corporations that I worked at talking about the ‘team being committed’ to goals.  I for one rarely felt anything of the sort and it became management jargon and mumbo-jumbo. We didn’t even believe that the executives were committed let alone the person sitting next to us.  No-one went above and beyond and no-one was freely giving up a larger pay packet elsewhere for a noble cause.  We just did what we needed to earn our pay checks.  It was every man for themselves.  It worked, the business made money and so did we but it was far from positive or optimal.

As a business owner if you are not careful you will have lots of people who are involved in you attaining your goals but if they aren’t attaining theirs in the process then you can’t rely on their commitment. 

How do you gain their commitment?  Other than to ensure that your goals and theirs are aligned (and that takes talking) you can help them put skin in the game.  Shares, transparent (generous) bonuses, recognition, promotion prospects…the list can go on and what works for one won’t work for everyone so use a range of tools and allow the team member to help you agree on what is right.  This is where a good HR consultant can help you to structure a rewards program that actually generates the kinds of behaviours that you want.  I highly recommend investing in that kind of support for your business from an early stage.

When you have a committed team you can run the business in an entirely different way than when you don’t know if your team are committed.  You can trust them, you can turn your attention to business owner type activities rather than caretaker activities.  Getting there is not easy but it is surely important that you do get there.

Next up is a quick discussion on Delegation.

If you have any questions about the content that we cover here or in any of my other blog entries then please feel free to comment or ask questions either here or to me personally at